The Justification of Europe: A Political Theory of Supranational Integration

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Publication Date 2012
ISBN 9780199641246
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The debate on the EU's legitimacy has long suffered from a number of serious misunderstandings. Supranational politics, Jurgen Neyer argues, is not about the making of public order in Europe but about internalizing external effects and fostering the individual right to justification. The concepts of 'state' and 'democracy', he suggests, are essentially useless for understanding and justifying the EU's structures and practices. The European Union is a dualistic polity that is not replacing but supplementing its member states. Its modus of operation is the joint exercise of pooled competencies on the normative basis of the principle of mutual recognition.

He goes on to show that the EU provides an important cure to many of the problems that modern democracies are facing in a globalizing world. Legal integration internalizes external effects and democratizes democracies by transforming strategic international bargaining into a justificatory transnational discourse. The EU promotes the cause of justice by providing an effective remedy to horizontal and vertical power asymmetries, and to the arbitrariness of untamed anarchy.

The EU is far from perfect, however. European politics is still deeply embedded in a culture of integration by stealth and closely connected to a deep mistrust in the capacity of ordinary citizens to understand politics. A major change in the constitutional set up of the EU is required. It should build on a new understanding of the EU's institutions as catering to the individual right to justification and give national parliaments a strategic role in further developing its constitutional design.

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